The Best Bushcraft Axes & Hatchets In 2022 (Review & Buying Guide)

We all know that having a set of the best bushcraft tools possible is always going to be helpful when you’re out in a survival situation.

Sometimes bad or broken tools can quite simply mean the difference between life and death. So you need to invest in the best bushcraft axes and hatchets in order to chop firewood, build shelters or move obstructions such as large branches. 

Bushcraft work can be fun and rewarding – but if you’re like us, you’ll know how important it is to have the right tools for the job. You need to be able to rely on your axe for bushcraft work to help you build sturdy and stable survival shelters. 

With a subpar axe or hatchet, you’ll face endless challenges – from being unable to chop wood efficiently to struggling to protect yourself from the elements. Bad tools are not only frustrating, they can also be dangerous. 

We’ve researched some of the best bushcraft axes and hatches on the market so that you can find an option that will work for you and your specific needs. 

Let’s jump straight in and find out more. 

What’s The Difference Between An Axe & A Hatchet?

An axe is one of the oldest types of tools and has been around for thousands of years. It has a long and rich history and has been used for all sorts of tasks such as: 

  • Felling trees
  • Hunting animals 
  • Self Defense

There are lots of different types of axe and the best type for you will depend on what you plan to use it for. 

An axe is designed to be used with two hands in order to harness the maximum power on each strike. 

A hatchet is a miniature version of an axe. It has a short handle and it is designed to be used in one hand. 

A hatchet is used for tasks such as: 

  • Cutting small pieces of wood
  • Trimming 
  • Tearing off old wooden shingles

What To Look Out For When Buying A Bushcraft Axe 

Weight

Ask yourself how often you’ll be carrying your bushcraft axe or hatchet. If you’re going to be packing it in your backpack, bug out bag or survival bag you’ll need it to be much lighter weight than if you’re going to be using it at home.

The weight of the axe is also going to be important when it comes to how much power it can generate.

Handle Material

Think about what kind of handle material will suit you best. With bushcraft axes and hatchets you’ll generally be choosing between wood, metal or non-slip rubber.

Type Of Wood You Are Working With

The best type of bushcraft axe or hatchet for you depends on what tasks you’ll be doing and these will vary depending on the type of wood you’re working with. 

Handle Length

The length of the handle on your bushcraft axe or hatchet depends on how you intend to use it

eg: whether you’re hoping to fell trees or simply cut kindling. You’ll also want to think about storage and the size of the axe or hatchet overall. 

Blade Material

Most bushcraft axes and hatchets will have metal blades. Think about the maintenance that different blade materials require.

It’s important to always look after the blade of an axe or hatchet to prevent rust or corrosion. 

Best Compact Forest Axe For Bushcraft

The ESEE James Gibson Bushcraft Axe is a small and compact axe that can easily be added to a hiking backpack or an emergency bug out bag or get home bag. 

It has a 3 inch cutting edge and is well balanced for both chopping and cutting. It is light weight but performs well with tasks such as chopping and pruning branches as well as some carving.

Best Compact Forest Axe For Bushcraft

Handle Length

10.5 inches

Handle Material

Micarta

Overall Weight

1.72lbs

Blade Material

Carbon Steel

PROS

  • Great for outdoor use

  • Can be used in place of a large belt knife

  • Compact yet capable of cutting and chopping thick branches

CONS

  • Grip can be uncomfortable for some users

Best All Metal Axe For Bushcraft

These Smith And Wesson all metal axes come as part of a package which also contains throwing knives and nylon sheaths. 

They are incredibly easy to use and very sharp. The tip of the axe can easily pierce skin so they’re a useful tool for hunting. It’s essential that you always store them in the nylon sheaths provided to prevent accidents. 

The axes even feature a bottle opener to use when you’re camping or out in the wild. 

Best All Metal Axe For Bushcraft

Handle Length

10 inches

Handle Material

Metal

Overall Weight

0.5lbs

Blade Material

Metal

PROS

  • Each axe comes with a sheath included

  • Extremely sharp front edge

  • No need to sharpen on arrival

CONS

  • You may need to use a wet stone to smooth out jagged parts after use

Best Lightweight Forest Axe For Bushcraft

This Swedish Steel Axe has a stylish design and is made using the highest quality components including American Hickory. The head of the axe is hand forged and weighs approx 1.9lbs. 

The edge of this well made forest axe comes ready to use and is sharpened and polished to a high standard. Each of these axes comes with a traditional leather sheath included for safe storage and protection. 

Best Lightweight Forest Axe For Bushcraft

Handle Length

20 inches

Handle Material

American Hickory

Overall Weight

2.7lbs

Blade Material

Steel

PROS

  • Extremely well made

  • Can last a lifetime without needing replacement

  • Sheath can be clipped to a pack for easy carry

CONS

  • More expensive than many other options

Best Splitting Axe For Bushcraft

This 15 inch wood splitting axe can easily cut through fallen trees and chop wood for your fire or survival shelter. It’s a versatile axe that is also suitable for kindling, landscaping purposes or camping tasks. 

The 1.3lbs blade is made from sharpened carbon steel and has an effective anti-corrosive coating on the head. This enables you to use the splitting axe outdoors without worrying about rust or weather damage. 

Best Splitting Axe For Bushcraft

Handle Length

12.6 inches

Handle Material

Fiberglass

Overall Weight

1.3lbs

Blade Material

Carbon Steel

PROS

  • Has a hole for hanging and storing safely

  • Anti slip coating on the handle

  • Anti corrosion shock proof coating on the blade helps absorb impact shock

CONS

  • Handle coating may need replacing or reinforcing for outdoor conditions

Best Double Bit Axe For Bushcraft

This Estwing Double Bit Axe has forged steel construction to ensure you can expect maximum strength. It’s also incredibly durable and you’ll easily get a lifetime’s of work from this double bit axe. 

Although double bit axes are less popular than they once were, they’re an ideal tool for chopping logs, small trees or branches and for splitting firewood and kindling. 

This axe comes with a heavy duty nylon sheath which will help to protect the hand sharpened edge of this USA made axe. 

Best Double Bit Axe For Bushcraft

Handle Length

17 inches

Handle Material

Non slip Rubber

Overall Weight

  7 oz

Blade Material

Forged Steel

PROS

  • Comes with a nylon sheath included

  • Extremely durable

  • All axes are drop forged and tempered for maximum lifespan

CONS

  • May not be as versatile as other axes

Best Hatchet For Bushcraft

This best selling hatchet from Fiskars is the perfect tool for small to medium sized logs and can easily handle chopping kindling. 

The hatchet has a good power to weight ratio and users love the balance it provides. The excellent weight distribution allows you to increase your swing speed and multiply the power generated. 

There’s a lifetime warranty on this hatchet as well as low friction blade coating to prevent any issues occurring with the functionality. 

Best Hatchet For Bushcraft

Handle Length

  16.5 inches

Handle Material

Non slip Rubber

Overall Weight

1.4lbs

Blade Material

Steel

PROS

  • Virtually impossible to break

  • Made with a specialized grinding technique for a sharper edge

  • Ideal for chopping kindling

CONS

  • Sheath can break easily

In Depth Guide To Buying Your Bushcraft Axe Or Hatchets

So we’ve had a look at some great options for bushcraft axes and hatchets.

Why not take a moment to think through exactly what you need from your axe or hatchet by checking out some of the factors below? This will help you in your decision making progress and lead you to getting a bushcraft tool that works best for your needs. 

Weight Of Your Axe


There are a few things to consider when thinking about how much you want your axe or hatchet to weigh: 

How Often You’ll Be Carrying Your Axe 

If you’re just going to keep your axe or hatchet in your truck or car and drive it to where you’re working on bushcraft projects, you don’t have to worry about getting a lightweight option. 

However if you’re going to be carrying your bushcraft axe as part of a hiking expedition backpack or in a bug out bag, you’ll want to go for something lighter. 

Your Personal Strength 

If it’s a matter of carrying your axe or hatchet on your back, you’ll need to consider how much you personally are able to take. You also need to consider your strength when it comes to chopping wood or felling trees as you’ll need to raise the axe a considerable height time and time again – this can be extremely tiring if the axe is heavy. 

The Power Your Axe or Hatchet Can Generate 

A heavier axe will generate more power as you bring it down on a branch or piece of wood. However you need to balance this with how much weight you can realistically lift.

Material Of Your Axe’s Handle

There are three popular choices when it comes to the handle material for bushcraft axes and hatchets. 

Wood

Wood has been the most common material used for axes over the years. Traditionally, axe makers have used long straight grained woods such as hickory or ash for the handles of axes. 


Hickory is still widely used for ax handles today as it is readily available and one of the most affordable natural wood options. 

Wood in general is good for shock absorption and it handles extreme temperatures very well. It is comfortable to hold and easy to replace. Wood handles can also be adapted easily – cut shorter or shaped to your preference. 

One of the downsides of wood however is that it can break easily especially if it gets very wet and isn’t dried out properly. It’s not the best material if the work you’re going to be doing is very messy or dirty. 

Metal

It’s still quite unusual to find an ax with a metal (normally steel) handle but they are available. 

There are advantages to getting a metal handle on a bushcraft ax or hatchet. Steel handled axes are extremely durable and do not break easily. Often the ax head is welded to the handle which helps to keep it very strong. 

Unfortunately, steel will transmit the impact shock into your hands which means that it can be very uncomfortable and even cause joint problems long term. You can lessen the impact of a metal handle by wearing leather gloves when you work. 

Fiberglass 

Fiberglass handles are tougher than traditional wooden handles and more comfortable to use than metal handles. They have only been used for approximately 50 years but gained popularity fast. 

This type of handle is more expensive than wood or metal but they’re very easy to clean and maintain. If they do break however they are hard to repair and you’ll probably just have to buy a new one.

The Handle Length Of Your Axe

You measure the length of a handle from the top edge of the ax down to the knob at the bottom of it. There are two standard lengths for axes – full sized, felling axes or boy’s axes. 

A longer handle gives you more power for chopping logs and bigger branches as you’ll be able to swing the ax with more force. 

However it’s important that you can still control the ax, so don’t go for a handle length that is far too much for you to handle. You need to strike a balance between accuracy and force. 

Blade further away from the body for safety 

A hatchet has a shorter handle than most axes and these can be great for giving you the control needed for efficient and accurate cutting. 

Material Of Your Axe’s Blade

High carbon steel is the most ideal blade material for axes and hatchets. 

You need to opt for a blade material that gives you maximum strength as well as being easy to clean and maintain. 

If you’re just using your ax or hatchet to chop trees or logs it probably won’t get too dirty. Axes and hatchets that are going to be used for hunting animals will get messy very quickly so it’s important that you have a blade material you can easily wipe down and clean. 

Rust and corrosion can be a real issue for bushcraft enthusiasts. The way to avoid these issues is to regularly clean, dry and carry out maintenance on your ax blade. 

How To Look After Your Axe

There’s no point in spending money on an ax if you’re not going to look after it well – you will just end up having to replace it with a new ax or make expensive repairs. 

Looking after an ax isn’t difficult but it needs to be done regularly to keep it working efficiently. 

  • Every time you use your ax, make sure that you clean it by removing any dirt or moisture. 
  • Always make sure that your ax is fully dry before returning it to its protective sheath or storage space. Any amount of moisture on the blade can cause rusting. Some blades may benefit from having oil applied before they’re put away.
  • Sharpen your steel blade as regularly as you can. Any axe becomes dull over time and even the best steel needs sharpening. 
  • Try to avoid using your axe incorrectly as this can speed up the process of it becoming dull. Never split or chop wood into the ground.
  • Check over wood that you’ve collected to ensure that bark doesn’t contain sand, stones or gravel. These can damage your axe when you start to make contact with the wood. 

What’s The Difference Between A Tomahawk & An Axe?

Traditionally a tomahawk is a single handed axe native to the Indigenous people of North America. 

A Tomahawk looks more like a hatchet than an axe and it has a straight shaft. A tomahawk has a thinner blade than a hatchet but they do often look very similar. 

A few ways that tomahawks and axes can be told apart include: 

  • Tomahawks have round eyes instead of axes and hatchets which have narrow shaped eyes
  • Tomahawks have more extended handles than axes and hatchets
  • Tomahawks can be hafted from the bottom whereas axes and hatchets can only be hafted from the top. 

Conclusion

Bushcraft is such a rewarding and satisfying way to pass the time and to ensure you are fully prepped for any potential emergency situations. 

Yet you need the right tools for the job and nothing is more frustrating than a dull axe or a hatchet that doesn’t work well. Make sure you don’t face challenges with your tools by getting the best bushcraft axes and hatchets today – and enjoying years of efficient working ahead. 

Here’s a list of the products we’ve mentioned – so don’t delay, get your new axe or hatchet today and get chopping!

  1. Best Compact Forest Axe For Bushcraft
  2. Best All Metal Axe For Bushcraft
  3. Best Lightweight Forest Axe For Bushcraft
  4. Best Splitting Axe For Bushcraft
  5. Best Double Bit Axe For Bushcraft
  6. Best Hatchet For Bushcraft

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